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Author:  jeans man
E-mail:  not available
Date:  12/29/2003 10:39:00 AM
Subject:  clothing
Message:  I have never been correctly able to refute those who criticize my way of dress by quoting to me the story of Egypt where it says something about the Jews not changing their speech or way of dress. People tell me that this means that you do have to wear a white shirt, black pants, and hat and jacket because doing otherwise would be changing a mode of dress that was adopted by the Jewish people. My usual answer is that according that reasoning, we should all start wearing robes and turbans (or whatever they wore in those days) again. Is there another answer?

Also, I am not sure why you so vehemently attack some of the people that dare to question something you say. Many of the people who frequent this website would never have gotten here nor would they rely on the Rav if not for the fact that they questioned the things that have been told to them in the past. If they backed down every time that they were told that they are stupid, uneducated, unlearned idiots they would be like the rest of the sheep who go through life doing the wrong things because they are afraid to question. I respect your opinion on issues because I feel that you are different then the rabbis that I have dealt with throughout my life in that you have actually delved into things and tell them the way they are. I also acknowledge that most of the people who are asking you things do not know as much as you and are therefor, here to learn. In order to properly understand what it is that you are saying some of us may feel that we need to actually bring up some of the arguements which go against what you are saying (gasp!). This is not meant to be a position of disrespect but rather one as a devil's advocate stating what we have been hearing all of our lives and wondering why it is not true. Thank you for all your help.
Reply:  I'll start by answering you in order.
Rav Moshe has a Teshuva (Responsa) on the clothing issue, in regards to people coming from Poland and wanted to dress like Americans. He said it was fine. Jews that came to Egypt came all at once with a specific dress, language, and names. They were praised for not changing that to be like the surrounding Egyptians. That does not create a law that we must dress differently than non-Jews. It means we should not try to dress like them, to try to be like them. If the truth was like the way you described it, we'd be in bad shape. Our black hat and Jacket uniform was adopted from the "Al Capone" days. Look at a picture of a funeral in the 1930's, it looks like an Aguda Convention. The Chassidic Garb comes from the aristocracy of yesteryear. The language comes from Germany. If you didn't know, Ashkenaz means Germany. All Ashkenazim lived in Germany, spoke German, and were eventually chased out and moved all over Europe, taking the language with them. The names are not all Hebrew. Ask Raizy Gorbachov, or is it Raizel? The Payos.... Yeah! the Payos?! Where is that from. I can't believe that Moshe Rabbeinnu (Moses) wore Payos and all the subsequent Rabbis, and there is no mention of it. It turns out that if any Kohen (Jewish Priest) served in the Temple with any hair on his head (including the sides) longer than 30 days growth, he would be deservant of death. The Kohen Gadol (High Priest) needed to cut his hair once a week, and the Kings were required to cut their hair daily. The length of the remaining hair after a haircut was not to exceed a length that any hair should reach beyond the root of the adjacent hair. Those barbers had to be very skilled. Payos, growing long ones, is a new Mitzvah. Where are all those people opposing new things?! The Rambam says in the laws of Chukot Ha'Akum in Hilchot Avoda Zara (I think it's Perek #11) that we should not try to look like the non-Jews. We should not dress like them, nor cut our hair like them. He says something that the Acharonim seem to be unsure of it's meaning. He says that you should not grow the "Tzitzit" of your head like they grow the Tzitzit of their heads. If he meant just plain hair, he would probably have said hair, although the Navie does use Tzitzit for hair. It turns out that in the time of the Rambam, around the 1100's, the Egyptians used Payos as ritual hairstyles. The children all had their entire heads shaved bald, all except for one long Paiya on one side. They oiled it to make it shiny. Then at some age of maturity, (could it be 3 years old?!) they cut it off and offered the cut hair as a sacrifice. There are many Avoda Zaras (Idol Worships) that included Payos within their dress codes. I surfed the net, and downloaded tons of pictures. I could not believe my eyes. Try it. It's fascinating.
This type of dress could have easily been adopted by the neighboring Yemenite non-Jews, and eventually by the Yemenite Jews. The fact that many Chassidim curl their Payos to look like Yemenite type Payos, leads me to believe that their custom came from the Yemenites. Yemenites don't need to curl theirs, it is naturally curly.
The purpose of clarifying these things is not to create a scene or make fun of anyone. It is to put the truth on the table, and to remind everyone that the main part of our religion is God's Torah, not all the additives that are not from our Gemara or Shulchan Aruch.
The craziness of teaching children in a language that they barely know, just to preserve it, is absurd. I learned the whole Bereishit in Yiddish. I didn't know a single word of Yiddish. What a bunch of nuts. So many of the Sefarim that came out by our big Rabbis were in the local language. Not to mention that the Talmud is in Aramaic. All learning should be done in the original Hebrew, if possible, or you lose much by the translation. That is on the assumption that the translation is accurate. The Sephardim, thank God, preserved the Hebrew language over the years.
In regards to respecting people's questions, if they ask respectfully, I answer like a Mentch. If they are disrespectful, or if they put a whole opinion down that shows that they barely studied the Seforim, I answer them appropriately. If we write something different than what you thought your whole life, we will gladly show you where it is written. Then you will realize that not everything that you thought is correct. If it were, there would be no need to study Torah, since you know it all already.

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